When to Visit the ER vs. Urgent Care

emergency care on the left and a woman with a flu on the right

When to Visit the ER vs. Urgent Care

Today, we explore one of our frequently asked questions, when to visit the ER vs. Urgent Care. We are blessed to live in an era where we have options for medical treatment. Before towns were lucky if they had one family doctor to attend all medical emergencies. Today we have emergency rooms and urgent care clinics to choose from.

But, it’s not always easy knowing where to go when an emergency strikes. Let us clarify the difference between ER vs. Urgent Care facilities.

man on a stretcher having his vitals taken

Urgent Care

These centers are designed for patients whose symptoms or injuries are minor and don’t represent a threat to their lives but do require medical attention.

man measuring his temperature with a thermometer

Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.

Emergency Room

Emergency rooms are meant for genuine medical emergencies. These centers are equipped to handle trauma, surgical procedures, and other life-threatening situations. They have high-tech diagnostic equipment like x-rays, EKG’s, and ultrasounds.

man with severe chest pains

Hospital ER or Altus Emergency Centers?

How soon you get treated during a medical emergency can mark the difference between a full recovery, or a lifetime of disability or even death.

Therefore, when possible choose to come to the nearest Altus Emergency Center for treatment.

We guarantee no long wait times; unlike hospital ER’s where patients sometimes must wait for hours to get seen by a doctor.

The following symptom chart will help you decide if you should go to an Urgent Care center or the ER. Feel free to print and share it, you could save someone’s life.

Symptom Guide – Know Where to Go





Mild Allergic Reactions

Severe Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis)

Digestive Tract Issues

  • Mild to Moderate Stomach Flu Symptoms such as Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea.
  • Mild Abdominal Pain
  • Persistent Diarrhea
  • Bloody Stools
  • Vomiting Blood
  • Severe Abdominal Pain
  • All pediatrics with Digestive tract issues


Fever without a rash

Fever with a rash

Cold and Flu Symptoms

Mild to Moderate Cold or Flu-like Symptoms like Sore Throat, Body Aches

Severe Cold or Flu Symptoms including Trouble Breathing, Respiratory Infections

Cuts and Scrapes

Small Cuts and Scrapes That Might Require Stiches

  • Deep Cuts or Scrapes that: Won’t Stop Bleeding
  • Bone, Cartilage and Other Tissue is Visible
  • Amputation of a Finger, Hand, Arm, Toe, Foot or Leg
  • Facial Lacerations

Sprains, Strains, and Broken Bones

Mild Sprains and Strains

Broken Bones and Dislocated Joints


  • Superficial Burns
  • Moderate Pain Associated to Burns

2nd, 3rd, and 4th Degree Burns Where Deeper Tissue is Damaged

Ear, Eye, Sinus Infections

Mild Ear or Eye Infections

  • Severe Ear or Eye Infections
  • Sinus Infections


Mild to Moderate Asthma Symptoms or Attack

Moderate to Severe Asthma Symptoms or Attack

Urinary Tract Infections

Mild Urinary Tract Infections

Severe Urinary Tract Infections
Urinating Blood

Insect or Animal Bites

Small Bites that Might Require Stiches and a Tetanus Shot

  • Deep Gashes from an Animal Bite that Might Require Surgery
  • All Human bites

Acute Headaches

Stress Headaches

  • Migraines
  • Cluster Headaches

Eye Injuries


Any Eye Injury



  • Chemical Poisoning
  • Snake Bites



  • Vaginal Bleeding While Pregnant
  • Severe Vaginal Pain

Heart Attack


  • Chest Pains
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Shooting Pain Down the Arm
  • Loss of Consciousness



  • Sudden Onset of Numbness in the Arms or Legs
  • Slurred Speech

Head, Back & Neck Injuries


  • Any Injury to the Head, Back or Neck
  • Concussion
  • Loss of Consciousness, Fainting
  • Changes in Mood or Mental State



Any Type of Seizure

Altus Emergency Centers Locations and Contact Information

1404 West Baker Road

Baytown, TX 77521

Phone: (281) 417-3294

200 Oak Drive South

Lake Jackson, TX 77566

Phone: (832) 241-5680

137 North LHS Drive

Lumberton, TX 77657

Phone: (409) 227-9158

1791 N. Highway 77

Waxahachie, TX 75165

Phone: (469) 732-3151

woman speaking with a nurse in a hospital bed

Now that you understand when to visit the ER vs. Urgent Care, don’t hesitate. When in doubt, trust your gut and remember, if the condition is life-threatening, get to the nearest Altus Emergency Center as soon as possible.

Don’t put off going to the emergency room because you’re worried about the costs. We understand your concern but remember, insurance companies are obligated by law to cover emergency treatments. And if the price is still a concern, our Patient Advocate can help you negotiate your medical bills and make them easier to pay off.

Altus Emergency Room Baytown

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